Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 23, 2011 - 15th Week After Pentecost (1st Week of Luke)

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

The Conception of St. John the Baptist
Xanthippe & Polyxene the Righteous
John the New Martyr of Epiros
Nicholas the New Martyr

Τῇ ΚΓ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, ἡ Σύλληψις τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ ἐνδόξου προφήτου Προδρόμου, καὶ Βαπτιστοῦ, Ἰωάννου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀνδρέου, Ἰωάννου, Πέτρου καὶ Ἀντωνίου, τῶν ἐν Ἀφρικῇ τελειωθέντων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Ῥαΐδος τῆς παρθένου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν ὁσίων γυναικὼν Ξανθίππης καὶ Πολυξένης τῶν αὐταδέλφων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ ἅγιος νεομάρτυς Νικόλαος ὁ παντοπώλης, ὁ ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει μαρτυρήσας κατὰ τὸ 1672, ξίφει τελειοῦται.



READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 4:22-27
BRETHREN, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married."

Πρὸς Γαλάτας 4:22-27
Ἀδελφοί, Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν· ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης, καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Ἀλλʼ ὁ μὲν ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης κατὰ σάρκα γεγέννηται, ὁ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας διὰ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. Ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα· αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι· μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινᾶ, εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἅγαρ. Τὸ γὰρ Ἅγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἱερουσαλήμ, δουλεύει δὲ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς. Ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἐλευθέρα ἐστίν, ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ πάντων ἡμῶν· γέγραπται γάρ, Εὐφράνθητι, στεῖρα, ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα· ῥῆξον καὶ βόησον, ἡ οὐκ ὠδίνουσα· ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον ἢ τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα.

The Reading is from Luke 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 1.5-25
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ῾Ηρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας ἱερεύς τις ὀνόματι Ζαχαρίας ἐξ ἐφημερίας ᾿Αβιά, καὶ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων ᾿Ααρών, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς ᾿Ελισάβετ.ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασι τοῦ Κυρίου ἄμεμπτοι.καὶ οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τέκνον, καθότι ἡ ᾿Ελισάβετ ἦν στεῖρα, καὶ ἀμφότεροι προβεβηκότες ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτῶν ἦσαν.᾿Εγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ ἱερατεύειν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ τάξει τῆς ἐφημερίας αὐτοῦ ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ,κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας ἔλαχε τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου·καὶ πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος ἦν τοῦ λαοῦ προσευχόμενον ἔξω τῇ ὥρᾳ τοῦ θυμιάματος.ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἄγγελος Κυρίου ἑστὼς ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τοῦ θυμιάματος.καὶ ἐταράχθη Ζαχαρίας ἰδών, καὶ φόβος ἐπέπεσεν ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν.εἶπε δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ ἄγγελος· μὴ φοβοῦ, Ζαχαρία· διότι εἰσηκούσθη ἡ δέησίς σου, καὶ ἡ γυνή σου ᾿Ελισάβετ γεννήσει υἱόν σοι, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιωάννην·καὶ ἔσται χαρά σοι καὶ ἀγαλλίασις, καὶ πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τῇ γεννήσει αὐτοῦ χαρήσονται.ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον τοῦ Κυρίου, καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ καὶ Πνεύματος ῾Αγίου πλησθήσεται ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ,καὶ πολλοὺς τῶν υἱῶν ᾿Ισραὴλ ἐπιστρέψει ἐπὶ Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν αὐτῶν·καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει ᾿Ηλιού, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.καὶ εἶπε Ζαχαρίας πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον· κατὰ τί γνώσομαι τοῦτο; ἐγὼ γάρ εἰμι πρεσβύτης καὶ ἡ γυνή μου προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτῆς.καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἐγώ εἰμι Γαβριὴλ ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἀπεστάλην λαλῆσαι πρός σε καὶ εὐαγγελίσασθαί σοι ταῦτα.καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔσῃ σιωπῶν καὶ μὴ δυνάμενος λαλῆσαι ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας γένηται ταῦτα, ἀνθ᾿ ὧν οὐκ ἐπίστευσας τοῖς λόγοις μου, οἵτινες πληρωθήσονται εἰς τὸν καιρὸν αὐτῶν.καὶ ἦν ὁ λαὸς προσδοκῶν τὸν Ζαχαρίαν, καὶ ἐθαύμαζον ἐν τῷ χρονίζειν αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ναῷ.ἐξελθὼν δὲ οὐκ ἠδύνατο λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν ὅτι ὀπτασίαν ἑώρακεν ἐν τῷ ναῷ· καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν διανεύων αὐτοῖς, καὶ διέμενε κωφός.καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τῆς λειτουργίας αὐτοῦ, ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ.Μετὰ δὲ ταύτας τὰς ἡμέρας συνέλαβεν ᾿Ελισάβετ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ περιέκρυβεν ἑαυτὴν μῆνας πέντε,λέγουσα ὅτι οὕτω μοι πεποίηκεν ὁ Κύριος ἐν ἡμέραις αἷς ἐπεῖδεν ἀφελεῖν τὸ ὄνειδός μου ἐν ἀνθρώποις.



READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

The Conception of St. John the Baptist
This came to pass fifteen months before the birth of Christ, after the vision of the Angel that Zacharias, the father of the Forerunner, saw in the Temple while he executed the priest's office in the order of his course during the feast of the Tabernacles, as tradition bears witness. In this vision, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and said to him, "Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Luke 1:13). Knowing that Elizabeth was barren, and that both he and she were elderly, Zacharias did not believe what the Angel told him, although he had before him the example of Abraham and Sarah, of Hannah, mother of the Prophet Samuel, and of other barren women in Israel who gave birth by the power of God. Hence, he was condemned by the Archangel to remain speechless until the fulfilment of these words in their season, which also came to pass (Luke 1:7-24).


The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah would appear His Forerunner, who would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner. In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest Saint Zachariah and his wife Saint Elizabeth, assiduously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple however had a misfortune: getting up in years they remained childless and they prayed unceasingly to God, that He should grant them a child. One time, when Saint Zachariah was in turn priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went during the time of Divine-services into the Sanctuary for making an incensing. Having gone in behind the Sanctuary veil, he beheld an Angel of God, standing at the right side of the incense altar. Saint Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the Angel said to him: "Fear not, Zachariah, thine prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth will bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John". But Righteous Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the Angel said to him: "I -- am Gabriel, that standeth before God and am sent to announce this unto thee. But now, thou shalt be mute until the day of birth, since that thou hast not believed my words". Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished, that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not pronounce it since he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, having given birth to the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, named John.

The Monastic Women Xanthippa and Polyxenia were sisters by birth and they lived in Spain during the time of the holy Apostles. They were among the first to hear the Divine teaching of Christ the Saviour from the holy Apostle Paul, when he preached in their land. Saint Xanthippa together with her husband Probus accepted Christianity, but Saint Polyxenia was still a paganess, when a certain man became entranced with her extraordinary beauty and forcibly carried her off to Greece. But the Lord preserved her unharmed. On the ship voyage, the saint heard the preaching of the holy Apostle Peter and believed in Christ. Upon arriving in Greece Saint Polyxenia turned to the Christians for protection and defense and was hidden by them in the city of Patra in the Achaia region, where she formal acceptance Christianity and was baptised by the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called himself. She became a witness to his miracles, and also to his patient and humble endurance of his sufferings and death. She stood at the cross upon which they crucified the holy Apostle Andrew. After his martyr's end, Saint Polyxenia returned to Spain, where together with her older sister Xanthippa she converted many a pagan to Christ. Saint Polyxenia toiled for about forty years at preaching the Gospel in Spain. Saint Xanthippa shared in the exploit and toil of her sister and preached in the populous city of Toledo.
Saint Polyxenia reposed in about the year 109, up to the end of her earthly life having preserved her virginity.

The Holy Martyress Iraida lived at Alexandria. One time, having gone to a well to draw water, she saw a ship at the shore, upon which were situated a large number of men, women, clergy and monks, all fettered in chains for their confession of the Christian faith. Having cast aside her water pitcher, the saint voluntarily joined in with the prisoners for Christ, and fetters were placed on her too. When the ship arrived in the Egyptian city of Antipolis, Saint Iraida was the first to undergo fierce torments and was beheaded with the sword. After her, the other martyrs sealed their confession of faith in Christ with their blood.

The Holy Martyrs Andrew and John, and John's Children Peter and Antoninus (IX), suffered during the time of the cruel African ruler Ibrahim. After the taking and destruction of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, Ibrahim took captive and brought to Africa Saint John and his two children, Peter and Antoninus, whom he compelled to study the Arab language and sciences. When the youths had grown, prince Ibrahim was so fond of them for their wisdom and virtuous life, that he named Antoninus his kinsman, and Peter he appointed as his chief steward. One time however, having learned that the youths secretly confessed faith in Christ, Ibrahim fell into a furious rage and ordered them thrown into iron shackles and beaten with knotted rods. After prolonged scourging, they put Saint Antoninus on a donkey, and secured on by straps they drove him through the city, beating and ridiculing him with abuse. The martyr endured all the insults and gave thanks to God. Saint Peter after fierce beating with the rods was thrown into prison. The father of the holy martyrs, John, was ordered to be arrested. The brutal Ibrahim grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, and with his right he thrust a knife into his throat. They threw the body of the father together with the bodies of his sons. They then lighted up a large bonfire, into which they cast the bodies of the holy martyrs.
Concerning Saint Andrew, the torturer for a long time wore him down with hunger, and then ran him through with a spear in the chest. When the martyr prayerfully began to give thanks to God, Ibrahim ran him through a second time. As he lay expiring from loss of blood, they then beheaded the righteous martyr with a sword.

Sainted Innocent (Innokentii), Metropolitan of Moscow (in the world Ivan Evseevich Popov-Veniaminov), was born on 26 August 1797 in the village of Anginsk of Irkutsk diocese, into the family of a sacristan. The boy mastered his studies at an early age and at age 7 he was reading the Epistle in church. In 1806 they sent him to the Irkutsk seminary. Here, to the betterment of lineage, they gave the youth the family name of Veniaminov, in honour of the deceased Irkutsk archbishop Veniamin (Benjamin, + 8 July 1814). On 13 May 1817 he was ordained deacon for the Irkutsk Annunciation church, and on 18 May 1821 -- he was ordained priest.
The missionary service of the future Apostle of America and Siberia began with the year 1823. Saint Innocent spent 45 years at the labour of enlightening the peoples of Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Yakutia, the Khabarovsk frontier, performing his apostolic exploit in severe conditions and at great risks to life. Saint Innocent baptised ten thousand people, and built churches, alongside which he founded schools and he himself taught in them the fundamentals of the Christian life. And together with this, his knowledge of various crafts and arts aided him much in his work.
Saint Innocent was a remarkable preacher. In making liturgies, moliebens and the all-night vigil, he incessantly guided his flock. During his time of endless journeying, Saint Innocent studied the languages, customs and habits of the peoples, among whom he preached. His work in geography, ethnography and linguistics received worldwide acclaim. He composed an alphabet and grammar of the Aleut-Lisiev language and translated into it the Catechism, the Gospel and many prayers. One of the finest of his works was the "Directions of the Way to the Heavenly Kingdom" (1833), translated into the various languages of the peoples of Siberia and appearing in more than 40 editions. Thanks to the toil of Saint Innocent, the Yakut people in 1859 first heard the Word of God and Divine-services in their own native language.
On 29 November 1840 the Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret made the tonsuring of Father John-Ivan into monasticism with the name Innokentii (Innocent), in honour of Saint Innocent of Irkutsk. On 15 December Archimandrite Innokentii was consecrated bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands. On 21 April 1850 Bishop Innocent was elevated to the dignity of archbishop.
By the Providence of God on 5 January 1868 Saint Innocent succeeded Metropolitan Philaret on the cathedra-seat of Moscow. Through the Holy Synod Metropolitan Innocent consolidated the secular missionary efforts of the Russian Church (already in 1839 he had proposed a project for improving the organisation of missionary service). Under the care of Metropolitan Innocent there was created a Missionary Society, and the Moscow Pokrov-Protection monastery was reorganised for missionary work: in 1870 was set up the Japanese Orthodox Spiritual Mission headed by Archimandrite Nikolai Kasatkin (afterwards Sainted Nikolai of Japan, Comm. 3/16 February), to whom Saint innocent had passed on much of his own spiritual experience. Quite fruitful also was the guidance by Saint Innocent of the Moscow diocese. By his efforts, the church of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God was built up into the Moscow Spiritual Academy.
Saint Innocent reposed to the Lord on 31 March 1879, on Great Saturday, and was buried at the Holy Spirit temple of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. On 6 October 1977, Saint Innocent was glorified into the rank of the Saints by the Russian Orthodox Church. His memory is established to be celebrated twice during the year: on 31 March / 13 April, the day of his blessed repose, and on 23 September / 6 October -- the day of his glorification.

The Slovensk Icon of the Mother of God manifest itself on 23 September 1635 at the village of Slovenka, Kostroma district. A certain hunter while hunting by chance discovered a small rickety church, overgrown with moss. He went inside and saw, that all the church utensils had rotted with time, save only the altar icon of the Mother of God, which was perfectly unharmed. A monastery was afterwards built at this place.

Σύλληψις τοῦ Τιμίου Προδρόμου καὶ Βαπτιστοῦ Ἰωάννου
Ἔτσι προφήτευσε ὁ προφήτης Ἡσαΐας γιὰ τὸν Πρόδρομο τοῦ Κυρίου, Ἰωάννη: «Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὀδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ». Δηλαδή, φωνὴ ἀνθρώπου, ποὺ φωνάζει στὴν ἔρημο καὶ λέει: Ἑτοιμάστε τὸ δρόμο, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου θὰ ἔλθει ὁ Κύριος σὲ σᾶς. Κάνετε ἴσιους καὶ ὁμαλοὺς τοὺς δρόμους, ἀπὸ τοὺς ὁποίους θὰ περάσει. Ξεριζῶστε, δηλαδή, ἀπὸ τὶς ψυχές σας τὰ ἀγκάθια τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν παθῶν καὶ ρίξτε μακριὰ τὰ λιθάρια τοῦ ἐγωισμοῦ καὶ τῆς πώρωσης καὶ καθαρίστε μὲ μετάνοια τὸ ἐσωτερικό σας, γιὰ νὰ δεχθεῖ τὸν Κύριο. Ἡ φωνὴ αὐτή, ποὺ ἦταν ὁ Ἰωάννης, γεννήθηκε μὲ θαυμαστὸ τρόπο. Ὁ πατέρας του Ζαχαρίας ἦταν ἱερέας. Τὴν ὥρα τοῦ θυμιάματος μέσα στὸ θυσιαστήριο, εἶδε ἄγγελο Κυρίου, ποὺ τοῦ ἀνήγγειλε, ὅτι θὰ ἀποκτοῦσε γιὸ καὶ θὰ ὀνομαζόταν Ἰωάννης. Ὁ Ζαχαρίας σκίρτησε ἀπὸ χαρά, ἀλλὰ δυσπίστησε. Ἡ γυναῖκα του ἦταν στεῖρα καὶ γριά, πῶς θὰ γινόταν αὐτὸ ποὺ ἄκουγε; Τότε ὁ ἄγγελος τοῦ εἶπε ὅτι γιὰ νὰ τιμωρηθεῖ ἡ δυσπιστία του, μέχρι νὰ πραγματοποιηθεῖ ἡ βουλὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ, αὐτὸς θὰ ἔμενε κωφάλαλος. Πράγματι, ἡ Ἐλισάβετ συνέλαβε, καὶ μετὰ ἐννιὰ μῆνες ἔκανε γιό. Μετὰ ὀκτὼ ἡμέρες, στὴν περιτομὴ τοῦ παιδιοῦ, οἱ συγγενεῖς θέλησαν νὰ τοῦ δώσουν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατέρα του, Ζαχαρία. Ὅμως, ὁ Ζαχαρίας, ἔγραψε ἐπάνω σὲ πινακίδιο τὸ ὄνομα Ἰωάννης. Ἀμέσως δέ, λύθηκε ἡ γλῶσσα του, καὶ ἡ χαρὰ γιὰ ὅλους ἦταν μεγάλη.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀνδρέας
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Βασιλείου τοῦ Μακεδόνα (867) καὶ ἦταν γέρων στὴν ἡλικία. Συνελήφθη ἀπὸ τοὺς Ἀγαρηνούς, οἱ ὁποῖοι ἐκείνη τὴν ἐποχὴ ἐξουσίαζαν ὅλην τὴν Ἀφρικὴ καὶ εἶχαν φτάσει μέχρι τὴν Σικελία. Τὸν ὁδήγησαν μπροστὰ στὸν θηριώδη ἄρχοντά τους Ἀβραχίμ, στὸν ὁποῖο μπροστὰ ὁ Ἅγιος ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστὸ μὲ περίσσια τόλμη. Τότε ὁ ἄρχοντας αὐτὸς τὸν φυλάκισε γιὰ πολλὰ χρόνια καὶ ἐπειδὴ ἔβλεπε ὅτι ὁ Ἀνδρέας ἐπέμενε στὴν πίστη του, τὸν ἔβαλε μπροστά του σὰ στόχο καὶ καλπάζοντας τὸ ἄλογό του τὸν χτύπησε θανάσιμα μὲ τὸ κοντάρι του. Κατόπιν τὸν ἀποκεφάλισε καὶ ἔτσι ὁ Ἀνδρέας ἔλαβε ἔνδοξα τὸ ἀμάραντο στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης μὲ τὰ δυὸ παιδιά του Πέτρο καὶ Ἀντώνιο (ἢ Ἀντωνῖνο)
Κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὶς Συρακοῦσες τῆς Σικελίας καὶ ἔζησαν στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Βασιλείου τοῦ Μακεδόνα (867). Ὅταν κατέλαβαν τὴν Σικελία οἱ Ἀγαρηνοί, τὸν Ἰωάννη μὲ τοὺς γιούς του πῆραν αἰχμαλώτους καὶ τοὺς μόρφωσαν σύμφωνα μὲ τὴν δική τους θρησκεία. Ὅταν μεγάλωσαν ὅμως, δὲν ξέχασαν τὴν θρησκεία ποὺ τοὺς εἶχε διδάξει ὁ πατέρας τους καὶ ἔτσι λάτρευαν κρυφὰ τὸν ἕναν καὶ ἀληθινὸ Θεό. Ὅταν τὸ ἔμαθε αὐτὸ ὁ θηριώδης ἀρχηγὸς τῶν Ἀγαρηνῶν Ἀβραχίμ, ἐξαγριωμένος, ἐπειδὴ τοὺς εἶχε δώσει καὶ μεγάλα ἀξιώματα, τοὺς συνέλαβε καὶ τοὺς βασάνισε μὲ τὸν πιὸ βάρβαρο καὶ φρικτὸ τρόπο. Τελικὰ ἀφοῦ τοὺς ἔκοψε ὅλα τὰ μέλη τοῦ σώματός τους, τὰ δυὸ παιδιὰ παρέδωσαν τὴν ἁγία ψυχή τους στὸν Θεό. Ὁ δὲ πατέρας τους, παρέδωσε καὶ αὐτὸς ἔνδοξα τὴν ψυχή του στὸν Θεό, ἀφοῦ ὁ βάρβαρος Ἀβραχὶμ ἔχωσε στὸ λαρύγγι του τὸ ξίφος.

Ἡ Ἁγία Ραΐς ἡ παρθένος
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη Βάταν (ἢ Τάμαν) τῆς Αἰγύπτου καὶ ἦταν θυγατέρα κάποιου Πέτρου. Ἀπὸ 12 χρονῶν ἔγινε μοναχή. Ὅταν κάποτε πῆγε στὴν πηγή, μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλες παρθένες, γιὰ νὰ φέρει νερό, εἶδε πλῆθος χριστιανῶν τοὺς ὁποίους εἶχε δεμένους ὁ ἡγεμόνας Λουκιανός. Τότε καὶ αὐτὴ πῆγε καὶ ἔσμιξε μὲ τὸ πλῆθος αὐτό. Ὁ δὲ δεσμοφύλακας, τὴν συμβούλεψε νὰ ἀπομακρυνθεῖ γιὰ νὰ μὴ χάσει τὴ ζωή της μαζὶ μὲ τοὺς ὑπόλοιπους. Ἡ δὲ Ἅγια Ραΐς ὄχι μόνο δὲν ἔφυγε, ἀλλὰ μὲ εὐτολμία παρουσιάστηκε μπροστὰ στὸν ἡγεμόνα, περιγέλασε τοὺς θεούς του καὶ τὸν ἔφτυσε κατάμουτρα, ἐπειδὴ καὶ αὐτὸς εἰρωνεύτηκε τὸν Χριστό. Ἀμέσως τότε τὴν βασάνισαν φρικτὰ καὶ στὸ τέλος τὴν ἀποκεφάλισαν, παίρνοντας ἔτσι τὸ ἀμάραντο στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.

Οἱ Ὁσίες Ξανθίππη καὶ Πολυξένη
Ἦταν Ἰσπανίδες ἀδελφὲς καὶ ἔζησαν στὰ μέσα τοῦ πρώτου αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστόν, ὅταν Καῖσαρ ἦταν ὁ Κλαύδιος ὁ Α´. Ἡ Ξανθίππη μαζὶ μὲ τὸ σύζυγό της Πρόβο, διδάχτηκε τὴν χριστιανικὴ θρησκεία, καὶ ἦλθε σ᾿ αὐτή, ἀπὸ τὸν ἀπόστολο Παῦλο. Ἡ Πολυξένη ἀφοῦ πῆγε στὴν Ἀνατολή, βαπτίστηκε ἀπὸ τὸν πρωτόκλητο ἀπόστολο Ἀνδρέα. Καὶ οἱ δυὸ ἀδελφές, ἐργάστηκαν γιὰ τὴν χριστιανικὴ πίστη καὶ ὁδήγησαν σ᾿ αὐτὴν πολλὲς γυναῖκες. Πέθαναν καὶ οἱ δυὸ εἰρηνικὰ σὲ προχωρημένη ἡλικία, χωρὶς νὰ πάψουν μέχρι καὶ τὴν τελευταία τους πνοὴ νὰ στηρίζουν τὶς ἀσθενικὲς ψυχὲς στὴ χριστιανικὴ ἐλπίδα.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Νικόλαος ὁ παντοπώλης, Νεομάρτυρας ἀπὸ τὸ Καρπενήσι
«... Ἐγὼ χριστιανὸς εἶμαι καὶ τὸν Χριστό μου πιστεύω γιὰ ἀληθινὸ Θεό. Οἱ τιμὲς καὶ τὰ ὀφφίκια ποὺ μοῦ τάζεις, δὲν μοῦ χρειάζονται. Ἐγὼ τὸν Χριστό μου δὲν ἀρνοῦμαι, τὸν Χριστὸ πιστεύω, γιὰ τὸ ὄνομά Του θὰ πεθάνω, Τοῦρκος δὲν γίνομαι». Αὐτὴ ἦταν ἡ δυναμικὴ ἀπάντηση τοῦ νεαροῦ Νικολάου στὸν κριτή, ὅταν μὲ πλεκτάνη προσπάθησαν νὰ τὸν ἐξισλαμίσουν. Ὁ Νικόλαος γεννήθηκε στὸ Καρπενήσι ἀπὸ γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς, ποὺ φρόντισαν καὶ γιὰ τὴν δική του εὐσέβεια καὶ μόρφωση. Σὲ ἡλικία 15 χρονῶν βρίσκεται στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ὑπηρετώντας στὸ παντοπωλεῖο τοῦ πατέρα του, στὸ Ταχτὰ Καλέ. Κάποιος κουρέας Τοῦρκος ὅμως, ποὺ τοῦ μάθαινε τὴν Τούρκικη γλῶσσα, τοῦ ἔδωσε νὰ διαβάσει τὴν Τούρκικη ὁμολογία πίστης, μπροστὰ σὲ μάρτυρες, χωρὶς ὁ Νικόλαος νὰ γνωρίζει τίποτα. Ὅταν τοῦ εἶπαν ὅτι γίνεται Τοῦρκος, ὁ Νικόλαος ἀμέσως ὁμολόγησε τὴν πίστη του στὸν Χριστό. Ἡ δυναμικὴ ἀπάντηση ποὺ ἔδωσε στὸν κριτή, ἔκανε τοὺς Τούρκους νὰ τὸν βασανίσουν μέσα στὴ φυλακὴ μὲ τὸν πιὸ ἄγριο τρόπο. Παρ᾿ ὅλα αὐτὰ ὅμως, ὁ Νικόλαος ἔμεινε ἀκλόνητος στὴν πίστη του. Ἔτσι, τὴν Δευτέρα 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 1672 τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν. Ἦταν 15 χρονῶν. Τὸ λείψανό του ἐνταφιάστηκε στὸ Μοναστήρι τῆς Παναγίας Χάλκης. Ἀργότερα ἡ κάρα τοῦ Ἁγίου μεταφέρθηκε στὴν Ἱερὰ Μονὴ Ξηροποτάμου τοῦ Ἁγίου Ὄρους. (Ἡ μνήμη του περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνεται, ἀπὸ ὁρισμένους Συναξαριστές, καὶ τὴν 23η Δεκεμβρίου).

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Νεομάρτυρας «ἐκ Μουσουλμάνων»
Ὁ Ἅγιος αὐτὸς νεομάρτυρας γεννήθηκε στὴν Κόνιτσα τῆς Ἠπείρου, ἀπὸ γονεῖς Μουσουλμάνους. Ὁ πατέρας του ἦταν Δερβίσης καὶ Σέχης στὸ ἀξίωμα. Εἴκοσι χρονῶν, μπῆκε καὶ αὐτὸς στὸ τάγμα τῶν Δερβίσηδων. Ἀφοῦ ἔκανε ἀρκετὰ χρόνια στὰ Ἰωάννινα, πῆγε στὸ Βραχώρι τῆς Αἰτωλίας, ὅπου κατοίκησε σ᾿ ἕνα οἴκημα, ποὺ ὀνομαζόταν Μουσελὶμ σεράι. Ξαφνικὰ ὅμως, ἄρχισε νὰ ζεῖ σὰν χριστιανός, πέταξε τὰ ἐνδύματα τοῦ Δερβίση καὶ ντύθηκε χριστιανικά. Ἔπειτα πῆγε στὴν Ἰθάκη, ὅπου δέχτηκε τὸ ἅγιο Βάπτισμα μὲ τὸ ὄνομα Ἰωάννης. Ὅταν ἐπανῆλθε στὴν Αἰτωλία, παντρεύτηκε στὸ χωριὸ Μαχαλὰς καὶ ἔκανε τὸ ἐπάγγελμα τοῦ ἀγροφύλακα. Ὁ πατέρας του ὅμως, ἔστειλε ἀπεσταλμένους νὰ τὸν μεταπείσουν, ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς τοὺς ἔδιωξε. Τότε συλλήφθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Μουσελίμη τοῦ Βραχωρίου, στὸν ὁποῖο ὁμολόγησε μὲ θάρρος τὸ χριστιανικό του ὄνομα καὶ τὴν ἀγάπη του στὸν Χριστό. Βασανίστηκε ἀνελέητα. Τελικὰ τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν στὶς 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 1814. Οἱ χριστιανοὶ παρέλαβαν τὸ τίμιο λείψανό του καὶ τὸ ἔθαψαν σ᾿ ἕνα ἀγρόκτημα στὸ Βραχώρι.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος Μητροπολίτης Ἄργους, ἐθνοϊερομάρτυρας
Γρηγόριος Καλαμαρᾶς Μητροπολίτης Ἄργους καὶ Ναυπλίου (1810-1821), ἀνιψιὸς τοῦ προκατόχου του Γρηγορίου (1800-1810). Γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἀλαγονία Καλαμάτας. Χρημάτισε μητροπολίτης Ἐρυθρῶν καὶ κατόπιν Πατρῶν (1780-1799). Ὑπὸ τὴν ἰδιότητα τοῦ «πρώην» ἐκλέχθηκε μητροπολίτης Ναυπλίου καὶ Ἄργους (1810). Τὸ ἔτος 1819 μυήθηκε στὴν Φιλικὴ Ἑταιρεία ἀπὸ τὸν Νικηφόρο Παμπούκη, ἐνῷ βρισκόταν στὴν Ὕδρα, ὁ ἴδιος δὲ ἔκαμε Φιλικοὺς τοὺς προκρίτους τῆς ἐπαρχίας του. Ἡ προεπαναστατικὴ ἐθνικὴ δραστηριότητα τοῦ Γρηγορίου ἔγινε ἀντιληπτὴ ἀπὸ τοὺς Τούρκους καὶ γι᾿ αὐτό, μὲ διαταγὴ τοῦ καϊμακάμη τῆς Τρίπολης, κλείστηκε μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλους ἀρχιερεῖς στὶς φυλακὲς τῆς πόλης καὶ ὑπέφερε τὰ πάνδεινα, μέχρις ὅτου ἀπὸ τὶς κακουχίες, τὴν ἀσιτία καὶ τὰ πολύμηνα μαρτύρια πέθανε στὶς 21 Σεπτεμβρίου 1821.

Τῇ ΚΓ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, ἡ Σύλληψις τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ ἐνδόξου προφήτου Προδρόμου, καὶ Βαπτιστοῦ, Ἰωάννου.
Ἀνδρὶ Προφήτῃ χρησμὸς ἐξ Ἀρχαγγέλου,
Τεκεῖν προφήτην, καὶ Προφήτου τι πλέον.
Εἰκάδῃ τῇ τριτάτῃ γαστὴρ λαβὲ Πρόδρομον εἴσω.

Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀνδρέου, Ἰωάννου, Πέτρου καὶ Ἀντωνίου, τῶν ἐν Ἀφρικῇ τελειωθέντων.
Ὑπὲρ νυγέντος πρὶν μιᾷ λόγχῃ Λόγου,
Λόγχαις νυγείς, ἤνεγκε διτταῖς Ἀνδρέας.
Ἔχθραν πλάνῃ θείς, καὶ σφαγείς, Ἰωάννης,
Σφάττει τὸν ἐχθρόν, καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ τὴν πλάνην.
Ἀντώνιος καὶ Πέτρος, ὡς στερραὶ πέτραι,
Πρὸς τάς μεληδὸν ἐκκοπὰς ἐκαρτέρουν.

Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Ῥαΐδος τῆς παρθένου.
Ποθοῦσα κάλλος ἡ Ῥαῒς Θεοῦ βλέπειν,
Σαρκὸς τὸ κάλλος ἐκδίδωσι τῷ ξίφει.

Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν ὁσίων γυναικὼν Ξανθίππης καὶ Πολυξένης τῶν αὐταδέλφων.
Τάς συγγόνους Ξανθίππην καὶ Πολυξένην,
Χοροὶ συνοίκους λαμβάνουσιν Ἀγγέλων.

Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ ἅγιος νεομάρτυς Νικόλαος ὁ παντοπώλης, ὁ ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει μαρτυρήσας κατὰ τὸ 1672, ξίφει τελειοῦται.

Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Η χριστιανική οικογένεια είναι αγιασμένη με αίματα αγίων Μαρτύρων. Πατέρες με τους γιους, μητέρες με τις θυγατέρες, γονείς με τα παιδιά τους πολλές φορές επορεύθηκαν μαζί στο μαρτύριο. Σήμερα πάλι η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την μνήμη αγίων Μαρτύρων, του Ιωάννου και των δύο γιων του Πέτρου και Αντωνίου. Εμαρτύρησαν πρώτα οι δυο αδελφοί και τελευταίος, επάνω στα σώματα των παιδιών του, απέθανε ο πατέρας. Όλα τα τέτοια περιστατικά, από την ιστορία των διωγμών αγίων οικογενειών, που έγιναν ναοί και θυσιαστήρια της πίστεως, μας κάνουν να ευλαβούμεθα τον θεσμό της χριστιανικής οικογενείας και τόσο περισσότερο να θλιβώμεθα στις ημέρες μας, όταν βλέπωμε χαλαρωμένα τα οικογενειακά μας ήθη. Στις επιστολές του ο άγιος Παύλος μιλεί για υποδειγματικές οικογένειες χριστιανών και τις ονομάζει "κατ' οίκον" εκκλησίες. Εκκλησία είναι πραγματικά μία καλή χριστιανική οικογένεια.

Ἀπολυτίκιον, Ἦχος δ´. Ταχὺ προκατάλαβε
Ἡ πρώην οὐ τίκτουσα, στεῖρα εὐφράνθητι, ἰδοὺ γὰρ συνέλαβες, Ἡλίου λύχνον σαφῶς, φωτίζειν τὸν μέλλοντα, πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην, ἀβλεψίαν νοσοῦσαν, χόρευε Ζαχαρία, ἐκβοῶν παρῥησίᾳ· Προφήτης τοῦ Ὑψίστου ἐστίν, ὁ μέλλων τίκτεσθαι.

Κοντάκιον, Ἦχος α´. Χορὸς Ἀγγελικὸς
Εὐφραίνεται λαμπρῶς, Ζαχαρίας ὁ μέγας καὶ ἡ πανευκλεής, Ἐλισάβετ ἡ σύζυξ, ἀξίως συλλαμβάνουσα, Ἰωάννην τὸν Πρόδρομον, ὃν Ἀρχάγγελος εὐηγγελίσατο χαίρων, καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι, ἀξιοχρέως τιμῶμεν, ὡς μύστην τῆς χάριτος.